It’s easy to think that the Steelseries Rival 3 Wireless is just a Rival 3 that had its tail cut off. You’d be partly right but that would dumb down what Steelseries has managed to achieve with this new mouse. Yes, it’s still the same exact shape, size and color — from outward appearances, it’s identical to its wired sibling.
But to quote Agent Smith from the Matrix, “As we all know, appearances can be deceiving”. That’s because so damn much has changed on the inside of the Rival 3 Wireless. Most obvious being that it’s now wireless — and not your garden variety kind either. It uses Steelseries new dual channel Quantum 2.0 Wireless and Bluetooth for multiple ways to connect.
There’s also a brand new 18000 CPI TrueMove Air sensor and mechanical switches. All this powered by two AAA batteries that Steelseries claims will give you over 400 hours of use. The Rival 3 has gone from decent gaming mouse to serious contender. So should you pay the extra AUD$30 over the wired Rival 3? Absolutely.
Steelseries Rival 3 Wireless Review
Let’s start with the design. As I said, looking at the Rival 3 wireless is like looking at the Rival 3 with, um, no wire. But there are some key differences beyond the missing tail. The first is the lack of the RGB light strip around the base that I loved in the Rival 3. This is obviously thanks to the mouse needing all the power it can get.
Secondly, the rear end of the Rival 3 Wireless is now a back plate that hides a battery bay for two AAA batteries. You can use one battery just fine but there’s an added benefit. Removing a battery lowers the overall weight of the mouse by 10gms for easier movement. But even at 96gm, it’s still about 20-30gm heavier than it’s wired sibling.
In between the battery bays is a slot for the tiny 2.4Ghz USB-A dongle. I love these miniature dongles, but they are easier to lose. If you do, you can buy a replacement from Steelseries. Underneath the mouse is a switch to power on the mouse and toggle between 2.4Ghz wireless or Bluetooth mode.
The Rival 3 wireless keeps the psuedo-ambidextrous design but the buttons are positioned for right-handers. It’s has a bulbous bum which makes it sit in the palm for a good claw or fingertip grip. The ABS plastic used here is sturdy and durable. The matte finish is great at repelling fingerprints and oil smudges but I dislike how it feels in hand. It feels rough and cheap — nowhere near the satin finish of like the Roccat Kain AIMO 200.
400+ hour battery
Steelseries promises over 400 hours of battery life with the Rival 3 Wireless. While that is true, it does require some compromises to achieve. Specifically, you’ll need to run the mouse in high-efficiency wireless mode or Bluetooth. This drops the polling rate from 1000Hz to 125Hz which makes the mouse feel sluggish and slow. This makes it useless for fast paced games where speed and response time are critical for success.
I never reached 400 hours — barely even half that. I used the mouse exclusively on average 10 hours a day and the Rival 3 died after about 16 days or about 160hrs. Of that time, gaming was about 20% of the time with the rest being the usual Windows navigation, work and web browsing. Sure, I was using it in high-power mode with a mix of Quantum 2.0 Wireless and Bluetooth on different devices. Nevertheless, that’s a long way from whats advertised on the box.
The Steelseries Engine app gives you many power-saving options that you can balance performance and longevity. However, unless you use the recommended settings, you’ll need to replace the batteries every three weeks or so. And that cost adds up over time. Some rechargeable Eneloop batteries are a useful investment.
The other big thing about the Rival 3 Wireless is the Quantum 2.0 Wireless. This fancy named feature is 2.4Ghz wireless that’s delivered via your standard tiny USB dongle. The trick here is some fancy new algorithms that Steelseries says delivers 20% faster than competitors. Even more interesting is the fact that it uses dual channel transmission.
This means even if one channel drops, the mouse won’t drop connection. This is handy especially when you have a wireless keyboard and headsets connected to your computer. Or for esports folk at tournaments where there’s a lot of wireless noise. In practice, I never experienced any dropouts or stutters. Everything works well and there was no perceivable lag in gaming.
Hell, I didn’t notice much difference when comparing to my Razer Basilisk Ultimate which has the proven Razer Hyperspeed Wireless. The Rival 3 Wireless feels smooth and responsive. However, put on high-efficiency mode and you’ll feel the slowdown as the mouse drops all its speed to save power.
The Rival 3 also has Bluetooth, perfect for those who use laptops and tablets. There are no dramas connecting the mouse via Bluetooth. This also means you can have the Rival 3 connected to your main PC and your travel laptop.
The Rival 3 Wireless gets Steelseries new TrueMove Air optical sensor. It boasts 18,000 CPI, double the 8,500 CPI sensor in the wired Rival 3. IPS is also improved from 300 to 400 and acceleration from 35G to 40G. All this to say the Rival 3 Wireless feels smoother, faster and more accurate than its wired sibling. Of course, only top eSports athletes will notice the difference this makes.
I tested a few games and found the Rival 3 Wireless to work splendidly from Call of Duty: Warzone to Marvels Avengers. Response was quick and timely. This was further accentuated by the new mechanical switches which feel crisp and clicky. These switches will last you 60 million clicks which is a very long time.
The Rival 3 Wireless improves on the Rival 3 in so many tangible ways. It seems silly not to buy it over its cheaper wired sibling. There’s little to fault with it — at least not enough to change my recommendation. Yes, I miss that glorious RGB strip around the bottom and the plastic just doesn’t feel great to me. And at $120 locally, it’s not the cheapest mouse but it’s certainly one of the best value wireless gaming mice available. Having both 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth and standard batteries gives it a versatility that will appeal to both gamers and laptop road warriors.
The Steelseries Rival 3 Wireless was provided to PowerUp! for the purpose of this review.